Senator the Hon Brett Mason farewelled 116 volunteers soon to depart to developing countries, during a reception at Old Parliament House this week.
The group was in Canberra to undergo training and make final preparations for their volunteering assignments.
The volunteers will be placed with host organisations for a period of 12 months to 2 years, and will assist with projects ranging from surf lifesaving training to providing advice in the use of Geographic Information Systems.
Senator Mason described the group of departing volunteers as remarkable Australians. He said they were, “Australians who are outward looking, Australians who want to make a difference and who want to contribute to a world with less poverty and more prosperity.”
The Senator coined the volunteers “Australia in action” and elaborated on the important role they will play in the Australian Government’s aid program.
Samoa’s High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Mr Lemalu Samau Tate Simi, joined the Parliamentary Secretary in addressing the group, reflecting on his time as a volunteer with Red Cross, and wishing the volunteers every success with their endeavours.
The volunteers in this group will be distributed across 21 developing countries including Cambodia, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos, Ethiopia, Mongolia and Myanmar.
The Australian Volunteers for International Development program provides the Australian community with opportunities to share skills and foster linkages with people and organisations in developing countries.
Australian Volunteers for International Development
Senator Mason with the departing volunteers at Old Parliament House, Canberra. Photographer: Irene Dowdy